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Global Hunger Index

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    25th Oct, 2021

Context

India has slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th. 

What is the Global Hunger Index?

  • Annual Report: It is an annual report (peer-reviewed) published by Concern Worldwide of Ireland and Welthungerhilfe (a German non-profit organization). 
    • It was first produced in 2006. It is published every October. 
    • The 2021 edition marks the 16th edition of the GHI.
  • Aim: To comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.
  • Scoring: Based on the values of the four indicators, the GHI determines hunger on a 100-point scale where 0 is the best possible score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst.
    • Each country’s GHI score is classified by severity, from low to extremely alarming.
  • Data Collection: Undernourishment data are provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and child mortality data are sourced from the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).
    • Child wasting and stunting data are drawn from the joint database of UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, among others.

GHI indicators:

The GHI score is based on four indicators:

  • Undernourishment: Share of the population with insufficient caloric intake.
  • Child Wasting: Share of children under age five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute under nutrition.
  • Child Stunting: Share of children under age five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic under nutrition.
  • Child Mortality: The mortality rate of children under the age of five.

How did India score in Global Hunger Index 2021?

  • India ranks 101st out of 116 countries in the GHI 2021 rankings. With a score of 27.5, India has a level of hunger that is ‘serious’.
  • India has slipped 7 positions from its 2020 rank of 94.
  • India is ranked behind most of its neighbouring countries. Their ranks are given below:
    • Pakistan – 92
    • Sri Lanka – 65
    • Nepal – 76
    • Bangladesh – 76
  • There are only 15 countries that are ranked below India in the 2021 index.
  • ??In the index, eighteen countries such as China, Brazil and Kuwait shared the top rank. They got a GHI score of less than five.
  • According to the latest data, India has the highest rate of child wasting among all the countries in the index.
  • However, India has shown improvement in other indicators such as the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food.

Global Hunger Index – India’s rank

  • In year 2021 GHI-101 out of 116 
  • In year 2020 GHI-94 out of 107 
  • In year 2019 GHI-102 out of 117
  • In year 2018 GHI-103 out of 119

What is actually meant by Hunger?

  • Hunger defines a short-term physical discomfort as a result of chronic food shortage, or in severe cases, a life-threatening lack of food.
  • World hunger refers to hunger aggregated to the global level. Related terms include food insecurity and malnutrition. 
    • Food insecurity refers to limited or unreliable access to foods that are safe and nutritionally adequate.
    • Malnutrition is a condition resulting from insufficient intake of biologically necessary nutrients. Although malnutrition includes both over nutrition and under nutrition, the focus for global hunger is under nutrition.

Constitutional Provisions and Food Security

  • The ‘right to food’ or in general the economic, social, and cultural rights are defined in Part IV of the Constitution as Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • The Right to Food in Indian Constitution is not recognized as a “Fundamental Right”
  • Article 21 and 47 of the constitution obliges the Government of India to take appropriate measures to ensure a dignified life with adequate food for all citizens.
  • Article 47: Article 47 of the Indian Constitution provides that it is the “duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health”.
  • Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty – No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty.

What are the reasons for Prevailing Hunger in India?

  • Small and marginal land holding: The agriculture output from small and marginal holdings are either stagnant or declining due to reasons such as reduced soil fertility, fragmented lands or fluctuating market price of farm produce. Almost 50 million households in India are dependent on these small and marginal holdings.
  • Lesser production for self-consumption: Though the country has surplus food, most small and marginal farming households do not produce enough food grains for their year-round consumption. 
  • Income on decline: Relative income of one section of people has been on the decline. This has adverse effects on their capacity to buy adequate food, especially when food prices have been on the rise.
  • Less remunerative work: The kind of work a section of people have been doing are less remunerative or there is less opportunity to get remunerative works.
  • Poor functioning of PDS: The public distribution system (PDS) of the state is not functioning well or is not accessible to everyone.
  • Other reasons include:
    • Poverty: Poverty and hunger exist in a vicious cycle.
    • Food shortages
    • Climate change
    • Poor nutrition
    • Poor infrastructure
    • Gender inequality

What needs to be done?

  • Multi-pronged strategy: A multi-pronged approach is needed to deal with the crisis.
  • Renewed focus on small and marginal holdings: More crops have to be grown, especially by small and marginal farmers with support from the Union government.
  • Focus on food security of the vulnerable section: The government may create provisions to supply cooked nutritious food to the vulnerable section of the society.
  • Boost to employment schemes: Rural employment schemes such as MGNREGA should be given a boost to increase employment and wages.
  • Streamlining and universalizing PDS: Access to food grains under the PDS needs to be streamlined by simplifying technical processes and reducing Adhaar-related glitches.
  • One Nation One Ration card scheme: The Union government must also ensure that the ‘One Nation One Ration card’ scheme, if brought into effect, is operationalised through proper preparations.

Government initiative to tackle hunger

  • Eat Right India Movement
  • POSHAN Abhiyan
  • POSHAN 2.0
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana
  • National Food Security Act, 2013
  • Mission Indradhanush
  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme
  • Food Fortification: Food Fortification or Food Enrichment is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.

Conclusion

Though India has not reached the WHO goals, progress towards food security continues to spread across the country. Each year, the country is reducing the number of people who are malnourished.

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